ANGELES CITY – This new year, no placards. Just scarecrows. Farmer-leaders from the Alyansa ng Manggagawang Bukid sa Asyenda Luisita (Ambala) and the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) put up yesterday scarecrows in various parts of Barangays Balete and Cutcut within Hacienda Luisita,
the land-reform estate that used to be entirely owned by the family of Pres. Aquino.
Despite land distribution finished last year by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) in the estate, land controversy has persisted there, amid the claim of the Cojuango- controlled Tarlac Development Corp. (Tadeco) that hundreds of hectares of lands in Barangays Balete and Cutcut City were exempted from land reform.
“Today, we put up scarecrows as a symbol of our opposition to the measures being undertaken by the President’s family to deprive us of lands rightly ours,” said AMGL Chairman Joseph Canlas.
Florida Sibayan, president of Ambala, said the areas which were excluded by DAR from land reform were covered by the Supreme Court decision in April 2013 mandating land reform in Hacienda Luisita. “They (people from Tadeco) could not show any document or court order to justify their bulldozing farms there and fencing the areas,” she added.
Canlas said Tadeco started to “harass” the farmworkers in the disputed area starting September last year.
Since then, personnel from Tadeco, backed by the police, had bulldozed some 100 hectares of crops in Barangays Cutcut and Balete. Some 50 farmworkers had been farming the area since 2005 under their “bungkalan” system to provide them with livelihood between sugarcane harvests.
He said the areas being claimed by Tadeco have increased meteorically in value amid the construction of expressways nearby, as he noted government plans dating back to 1993 to create an economic zone in the hacienda.
This plan was allegedly carried over to the present administration as part of the so-called W-Growth
Corridor under the Public- Private Partnership program of Pres. Aquino.